Thursday, July 17, 2008

Organ donation

As briefly mentioned in my first post, I have had two kidney transplants. I took the second semester off from my first year of college to have the first one and received that kidney from my dad (thanks, dad!!). Living donor transplants are preferential to cadaveric donation because you can more carefully schedule and prepare for them and there is a better chance of the kidney working right away. I couldn't believe how much better I felt post transplant. My first semester at college I'd earned the nickname "Sleepy" due to my proclivity for frequent napping, but with the new kidney I had newfound energy.

Actual photo of my dad's kidney

My dad's kidney worked for about 5 1/2 years. I didn't reject it but rather it succumbed to my original disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis that I still carry. After that I went on dialysis for almost 2 years. My doctor thought there might be less chance of disease recurrence if I didn't have a transplant immediately. After a year and a half of dialysis, I went on the transplant waiting list. I couldn't believe my good fortune when the transplant nurse called me Sunday morning May 13, 2001 (you tend to remember these things), just 2 months after I'd been officially listed, to tell me they'd found a perfect match. That transplant lasted 4 1/2 years. Four years may not seem like a successful transplant, but let me tell you - four years without dialysis is priceless.

Unfortunately I am not a candidate for a third transplant as my weakened heart is too much of a risk. I can't stress enough how important organ donation is. There are currently just shy of 100,000 people on waiting lists in the U.S. You can save or improve the lives of up to 7 people if you agree to be a donor. All you have to do is to talk to your family members - the little box checked on your driver's license means NOTHING without their permission. Seriously. Make your wishes known.

Thanks for listening to my Public Service Announcement.


Steven G. Harms said...

I think it's really brave of you to post things like this. I know that others out there with a similar type of chronic concern really must admire you for being able to help them not feel so alone.

Ian said...

I agree, Steven.

Kolekona said...


Steanso said...

I can tell you guys from relatively recent experience following the death of my friend, Jeff, that if you're interested in organ donation, it's best to have your intentions known sooner rather than later and to get your ID marked as an organ donor. The traumatic period surrounding a loved one's death is a very tough time for loved ones to be trying to figure out whether someone would have wanted to be an organ donor. Save them that trouble and register ahead of time. Here's a web site explaining how:

By the way, Jeff did become a donor, and I hope his contribution helped in some way to mitigate the tradgedy of his death.

Meredith said...

My husband's cousin had a kidney transplant over 7 years ago and has a new lease on life. She is only 43 and has a full life ahead of her thanks to the gift of life one woman made when she checked the donor box.

Jamie, thanks for being a champion of this cause, because I think a lot of people are either unaware of how to become a donor or don't realize the significance of how it can change the lives of others.

Keep up the PSA's..... :)

Ellen said...

Hey, Jamie:

Just found your blog -- it's good to see you writing! Kyre and I actually just updated all our paperwork in CA, and we got all our organ donation wishes down in writing. Best to take matters into one's hands while they can. Stay strong!

mcsteans said...

Hey Ellen!

Glad to hear that. Hope you and Kyre are loving San Francisco! I'll actually be out there in October visiting my brother in Berkeley :)

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